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Nine in 10 women want better health support at work

A new survey has found the majority of women think there should be more support in their workplace when it comes to female health issues.

Research from training platform BetterUp found 59% of women have taken time off to tend to health issues, yet 25% of women felt uncomfortable disclosing to their employer why they needed time off.

Out of those that took time off, 26% did so due to periods, 14% cited menopause, and 19% took extra time off for pregnancy related reasons.

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The government recently decided against classing menopause as a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010, despite calls from MPs to do so out of fear of driving women out of work.

Research from the Menopause Experts Group back in June showed a rise in the number of employment tribunals concerning menopause in 2021. 

Deirdre O’Neill, co-founder of women's health company Hertility, said greater education on women's health issues would make it easier for women to speak up in the office.

Speaking to HR magazine, she said: "It’s time for companies to put women’s health support at the top of their agenda. Equipping employees with knowledge about their reproductive health and fertility can help them to make informed decisions when it matters. Showing them support in and out of the workplace.

The government implemented its first Women's Health Strategy back in July in an attempt to bridge the gender health gap in England.

O'Neill added that women are already at a natural disadvantage at work.

She added: "The workplace wasn’t designed with women in mind. Women are expected to have a career and a family, yet there is no support or access to information about their reproductive health. The reality for women is that our hormones control our lives – they dictate our fertility, our weight, our sleep, our mood, our metabolism.

"For decades women have kept their health issues quiet out of shame, a lack of education and even fear of the repercussions of speaking up at work."

Women often feel unable to discuss menopause issues at work.

Research from Vodafone in March 2021 found 50% of women experiencing menopause symptoms at work feel there is a stigma attached to talking about it, leading a third (33%) to hide how they’re feeling.

The majority (86%) of those surveyed by BetterUp said they would be more likely to work at a company if they had support in place for female health issues. 

BetterUp surveyed 429 women working in the UK in June 2022.